Iraqi Forces Delay Fighting In Mosul To Open Safe Passageways

Iraqi Forces Delay Fighting In Mosul To Open Safe Passageways

 Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) in Mosul were put on hold on Sunday (April 2) as the battle entered the densely populated areas of Old City and civilian casualties became more of a risk.

"Currently, there is a delay, to open safe passageways for families and residents towards the safe areas and camps," Lieutenant Colonel Emad Khalas said.

The close-quarters fighting is focused on the neighborhood surrounding the al-Nuri mosque, where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a caliphate nearly three years ago across territory controlled by the group in both Iraq and Syria.

The United Nations says several hundred civilians have been killed in the last month, and residents say ISIS militants are using them as human shields.

At least 355,000 residents have fled fighting in Mosul, according to the government, and some 400,000 civilians remain trapped inside the densely-populated Old City where street battles have raged for weeks.

(Reuters)